In my research, I have come across great libraries, book stores and internet resources with topics relating to shepherdry, pastoralism, and rural-urban relations. It’s quite a gauge when you ask for any books on shepherdry or transhumance and what the response is. In Die, France, I asked at a wonderful bookstore called Mozaique Books, and she piled up about 50 books. I spent an hour at a table in glee. I also asked at the Musee de Die et Du Dois, and was escorted to the Bibliotheque Henri DeSaye where again, a number of books came off the shelf. In Spain, Inland had a large library as well. In Falmouth, at Greenbank Books, the owner shuffled around and found a delightful book: A Shepherd’s Life. Have yet to have such luck in The Netherlands. But this may change.

Please feel free to use and add to the list!


Photo: Selected titles from the library of Inland during the New Curriculum Conference, in Spain, June 2018.

Top of my list




Staying with the Trouble, Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Donna Haraway, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2016. ISBN 978 0822 36214 2

****Wow! This tops my list. This is about living WITH, and ways to think about multispecies relations for repairing a damaged earth. It’s a joyous, poetic, creative sci fi-like journey, and unlike any book on sustainability  (I hate this word in relation to especially Haraway, so I cross it out). My words cannot match Haraway but I attempt it weakly: We must think horizontally and include critters, animals, and humans to get there. Words like sym-poiesis, making with, rather than auto-poiesis or self making…. percolate in my mind and spills over from the page, and slaps me across my hands. Never again will I leave out, but try to bring in. In regards to wool, Haraway describes Navajo weaving, and Navajo-Churro sheep that ‘ties people to animals through patterns of care and response-ability in blasted places of excess death and threatened ongoingness’, pg 89. She also accounts for a devastating time in US history, and what one could describe as cultural genocide in the 1930’s.  ‘US progressive agricultural authorities within the apparatus of the New Deal’ exterminated about a million sheep and goats of the Navajo…changing social structures, relations to the land, grazing rights (effecting soil quality and accelerating desertfication) and an ancient trading system.  See page 93, etc.

I am grateful to Professor Fabiola Jara Gomez who gave me this book during the Sweat(er)shop at the Utrecht Science Park.


In French:


Un Savoir – Faire de Bergers, Michel Meuret, coordinateur. Educagri Editions, Dijon France. ISBN:978-2-7592-0860-9     *the best contemporary reference book about shepherdry in France, but I suspect can be considered across nations. Very detailed research, documentation and articles on the need to valourize shepherdry, the practice and methodology of shepherdry, the guard dog and guardianship, shepherds and conservation of nature, the wolf, and shepherdry schools.



Paysages en Commun, Les Carnets du Paysage #33. École nationale superiéure de Paysage, 2018   ISBN 978-2-330-10266-1      *Of particular interest to me: ‘Le regard mouton et la tondeuse ecologique. Des troupeaux collectifs dans la ville’, Pauline Frileux. Describes pastoralization and ‘l’herbassier a la Conquete des Villes’ of urban centres, living with animals, organizing urban shepherd collectives, and urban transhumance.



Le Serpent d’Étoiles, Jean Giono. Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle, 1993. ISBN 978-2-246-78598-9   *a delightful tale of shepherd’s way of life as fluid interspecies/celestial/spiritual/ritual practices in rural southern France. Thanks to Stephane Verlet-Bottéro for sharing the wonders of this book with me.



On Achéve Bien les Eleveurs, Résistances a l’Industriealisation de l’Élevage, Coordonné par Aude Vidal, Illustré par Guillaume Trouilliard. Editions l’Échappée, Paris. 2017.ISBN 978-23730902-9-1    *An incredibly beautiful illustrated book on the impacts of industrialized controlled production of meat and animal products. Farmers are affected by  procedures by ever more rigid and intrusive procedures: ‘RFID tagging of sheep and goats, blackmail to agricultural premiums, increasing bureaucratization, and artificial reproduction’. As the systematic treatment of animals restricts breeder freedom, it can also be seen as a metaphor for humankind. What we do to animals, is what we do to ourselves. The book calls for the preservation of diversity of animal breeds, and the freedom of the shepherd to move more freely, including from the systematic control of his/her profession.



La Transhumance en Provence. Henri Joannet. Editions Sutton, Saint Avertin, 2013. ISBN 978-2-8138-0638-3  *A historical look at transhumance in the Provence region of France. excellent repertoire of historical photographs, advertisements and postcards promoting shepherdry and textile industries of the region which had been active since the Roman era. The vegetation cycle, seasonal migration, the shepherd and villages and the animal are of the collective memory of a place. It is ancestral tradition being lost  with the disappearance of transhumance by other forms of transport. 



DVD: Bergers de l’Aigoual Eleveurs des Causses et Cevennes. Directed by Marc Khanne. Camprieu Decouverte, 2016. (with English subtitles). *Khanne has made a number of documentaries on shepherdry and pastoralism, including the fascinating history of reforestation in the region which was seen as essential to land preservation, but is a menace now to shepherds as trees grow into much needed grasslands, and change soil acidification. I was introduced to his work at the Fete de la Transhumance in Die. This video looks at the way shepherds and their sheep have created ‘cultural landscapes’ which have been declared world heritage sites by Unesco. Khanne spent a year filmiing the day-to-day work on many farms in the Mont Aigoual area. Through diversification, such as cheese making, the farmers survive a harsh landscape. There continue to be many factors getting in their way such as the wolf, and financing.

In English:


A Shepherd’s Life, W.H.Hudson.With wood engravings by Reynolds Stone. Compton Press, 1978. (1910 = first edition).  ISBN 0 0900193 50 6.  *I believe this is out of print now, but I find it a charming account of sheep dogs, gypsies, shepherds, ravens, foxes, poachers, sheep bells and game keepers from the start of the 20th century in Wiltshire, UK. The effects of feudalism, and hunting and private property rights created great pressure on the shepherd and his need to kill predators and feed himself. Seems like the shepherd has always had survival pressures in relation to private property and mobility rights and predator protection. 

The Shepherd's Life cover

The Shepherd’s Life. Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, James Rebanks. Flatiron Books, New York, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-250-06026-6   *I came across this book in my summer vacation in New York State in a great bookstore in Ridgefield, Connecticut, called Books on the Common. How serendipitous, as the author, James Rebanks, writes of his stumbling upon, as I did, Hudson’s A Shepherd’s Life. He was so inspired by the frank writing of Hudson and his description of the daily life of Caleb the shepherd, that he decided to write the story of his modern life as a shepherd in the Lake District. It’s as frank, and a little more detailed about hefting, (ancient intuition of sheep to know where to be in the mountains without fences), and the difficulties but need to continue a multi-generational tradition, with traditional breeds that are native to the landscape,  and why it matters to survive into the future.


Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 15.48.51


The Loyal Ancient Shepherds’ Quarterly Magazine, Edited by John Critchley -Prince, 1848. *I was interested in this because it is a early way (1848!) to create a network of shepherds. Seems like it was not an easy task if you read the introduction and plea by the Editor.

Download: The_Loyal_Ancient_Shepherds_Quarterly_Ma


What is Landscape, John Stilgoe. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2015. ISBN 978-026-253-528-1

*A gentle and exploratory read and lexicon about the definitions of landscape from folklore, terminology, out of print dictionaries, and conversations with locals. We use many words without thinking of their meaning such as cityscape, streetscape, townscape… and often as Stilgoe states, “the sly and clever creatively misuse words and torture ‘landscape’ in particular.”   As an explorer of landscape, I find it a useful book to catch the historical and cultural complexity within words. A shepherd may think of landscape very differently than a taxi driver in Las Vegas. It’s worth exploring these differences from the perspective of a word, to enrich and empower the importance of landscape through various cultures and histories.





Wol in Nederland, Betty Stikkers & Dederica Westerveld. Handbook for breeders and users.

Ken je Wol, by Betty Stikkers.

You can order them here:

*Both amazing books of the history of sheep breeds, wool sorts and uses. Wol in Nederland is specifically on sheep breeding in the Netherlands. With both books, you have a wonderful overview of wool which is handy for anyone from researcher, breeder to knitter. Packed with useful images, including the type of wool produced from each breed, with micron levels, Wol in Nederland and Ken je Wol show the love, dedication and need to preserve the diversity of sheep breeds. 



Migrant Shepherds: Opportunities and Challenges for Mediterranean Pastoralism, Michele Nori, 105-4, 2017, Varia 2017. Found here: Journal of Alpine Research.


Oman and Mongolia reflect the modern climatic and social challenges to mobile pastoral livelihoods. Troy Sternberg and Dawn Chatty,  in Climate Change and  Disasters, Forced Migration Review 49, University of Oxford. May 2015

*Confirms the disastrous effects climate change (heat rise and less precipitation) and extraction industries have on mobile herding in Oman and Mongolia.

‘Mobile Pastoralism has long been a sustainable livelihood in a diverse range of countries … now being effected by environmental and social forces exemplified by climate change and governmental policies restricting movement and other practices… governments favour extractive industries for tax revenue… and climate change is effecting pasture quality and water resources and disrupts the rural landscape.

‘Changing land use to mining and oil extraction changes the landscape and restricts access to land, pasture rights and empowerment. Rural poverty, and devaluation of their work, shepherds leave herding and move to the city.’

Regarding traditional Cross border movement: ‘today fixed frontiers, fences, and politics restrict migration within nation states. This often channels herders to cities where pastoral skills have limited value.’


-Kyrgyzstan and Pastures, From the site of Our World, of the United Nations University

*Interesting to see where the building of new roads help to rejuvenate over used pasture. During the Soviet Union era, pastures were managed, with sophisticated crop rotation. After the collapse, a number of central Asian communities have difficult times to transition into the global economy, but are learning to turn to ancestral knowledge and new infrastructure such as roads and stable buildings. The new stable buildings are built in various locations support mobile herding, than the previous ones close to villages which promoted over grazing. The stables also loosen up time for women and children (who had to be constantly with herds) so wool production and schooling could be paid attention to. The pastures are given longer times to rejuvenate. Improved roads give people access to pastures, and with rotational grazing, the future looks brighter.


Pastures for the Future in Kyrgyzstan, 2010.

Roads and Stables Mean Greener Tajik Pastures, 2012.


Illmuran, Maasai in the Alps. Sandro Bozzolo, produced by Geronimo Carbonò and Meibi srl,  2015.

An in credible documentary set in the Italian Alps, where a Maasai woman reaches and lives with an Italian Shepherdess for a season of pastoralism, and the sharing of tasks and stories. This documentary is a beautiful journey of cross border exchange, and the sharing of skills and cultural hardships. “Ilmurràn in Maa language means “warriors”, and it can be conjugated only in masculine nouns.”


Associations:    (European Shepherds Network)  (annual festival of transhumance in Die, France)    The Archeological Museum of Die and Library, Die, France    Great bookstore for books on Shepherdry in Die, France      Maison de la Vie Associative, Arles, France        ADEM: Association Departmentale  d’Economie Montagnarde (Pastoralism Association of the Drome France region, Die France)   Dutch website with lots of information about Dutch herders, and wool information. You can also buy the books Wol in Nederland and Ken Je Wol. Great resources compiled by local authors, Betty Stikkers and Diderika Westerveld     Association for the preservation of Dutch wool, sustainable herding practices and processes, and traceability.  Saskia Cahuzak, Chairman

















%d bloggers like this: